Crap Crap have been scuttling sideways around the small market town of Hitchin for a few years now and have finally decided to come out of their shells for the release of debut album Volume I. Featuring two former members of thrashy noisemakers Men of Unitus (the singer of whom has gone on to front Artrocker favourites Hey Colossus), Crap Crab is a massive departure musically from this previous venture, with crushing riffs being traded in for some ‘post-roller disco instrumental carnage’.
The album opens with one of the five interludes that break apart the main 10 tracks; electronic arpeggios slowly swelling in volume, gently lulling you into a false sense of security. The sound begins to darken and distort before fading away for the opening synth stabs of ‘Crab Riff’ to kick in. Bass and drums start pounding and build in intensity with feedback cutting through; it is a marvellously noisy start to the album. By the time the song breaks out into the intertwining guitar melodies that form the basis of the Crap Crab sound, it becomes obvious that this is not an album to listen to whilst sitting still. Put this on when you are in a slump and you will be dragged vigorously from it.
Passages in the song ‘Korg Crab’ make me feel as if I should be playing a trippy Mega Drive platformer, ideally featuring an anthropomorphic crab character, which only serves to add to the retro video game feel that subtly permeates the album. There are more crab mentions on the tracklisting than on a Rick Stein menu, the album even being released under the ‘Now Crabs What I Call Music’ label. Personal favourites are ‘Death Crab for Cutie’ and ‘Crabi Shankar’ although a special mention must go to the fantastic 8-bit, Space Invaders-esque crab motif that adorns the artwork. Closing track ‘Crab Flu’ has some of the best instrumentation on the album, breaking out towards the end into a post-rock, delay-drenched breakdown that wouldn’t be out of place on an Oceansize song.
Although the Crap Crab formula doesn’t change radically at any point it is strong enough to give each song a distinctive voice and they all bounce around with such velocity that it’s hard to stop listening once you’ve started. The crustacean theme has obviously been picked up and run with hard, giving Volume I an identity that can sometimes be missing from other purely instrumental band’s outputs. Without lyrics you miss out on the easiest way to tie together a collection of songs into a coherent package but that has been achieved with gusto here.
If you’re a fan of other instrumental alternative-rock bands such as That Fucking Tank then this is an absolute must, although the Crap Crab guys have crafted such an incredibly fun and eclectic sound you really should just scuttle on down to your nearest rock pool to get your claws on this and have a listen for yourself.